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Salary Cap Restraints Will Force The Union To Make 'Big' Moves In The Offseason

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The Philadelphia Union's guaranteed compensation in 2011 is $3,653,981.17, but their salary cap hit is only $2,530,292.54. $144,707 is left over ($2,675,000 cap) for use in 2011, but the season's roster freeze has already happened.

Every dollar under the cap is paid for by MLS, not the Union or any other MLS team. Based on a 5% increase, which is in the CBA, to this year's cap number ($2,675,000), next year would give teams $2,808,750 to spend. The Union will have $133,750 to spend in 2012, in addition to the $144,707 from 2011 that is not yet used.

Danny Mwanga is all but set to graduate from Generation Adidas, which would add $226,250 to the Union's cap hit. Plus Freddy Adu's hit will raise from $167,500 hit for his second half signing to $200,000 for the full 2012 season (under the new young DP rules). That means the Union can keep every player on the team currently at their 2011 salaries, with $32,207 left over to spend.

Player salaries will go up in 2012 and there is no room at all to allow for that, currently. What the Union do after the season will be interesting to follow.

Juan Diego Gonzalez is most likely gone, as the Colombian has yet to play in MLS in 2011 despite his $193,462.50 guaranteed salary compensation and cap hit. Stefani Miglioranzi may not be retained as well, though his leadership has been celebrated by the team. Still, an MLS veteran should provide more than leadership and out-of-position play for $153,125.

The same situation can be said about fellow midfielder Justin Mapp, who has yet to live up to his $183,333.33 salary. Mapp is only 26 and is the only MLS veteran that plays on the outside of the midfield on the Union. However, just like both Gonzalez and Miglioranzi, Mapp's journeyman status does not qualify him for a salary among the highest on the Union.

Look for all three to miss out on inclusion in the Union's protected list for the 2012 MLS Expansion Draft and possibly not return next season.

In the very least, Gonzalez's nearly $200,000 salary will allow the Union to take on salary increases from players like Adu, Mwanga, right back Sheanon Williams, Gabriel Farfan and perhaps Roger Torres, if the Colombian playmaker's loan is renewed or he is purchased by the Union.

Without Gonzalez, Miglioranzi and Mapp, the Union would have $808,377.83 to spend in 2012. Between the three players is a cap abyss of $529,920.83, which has produced only 39 appearances (31 starts), 2471 minutes played, two goals, thee assists, 32 shots, seven shots on goal, 32 fouls committed, 34 fouls suffered and two yellow cards. The numbers from the group are low, and it doesn't help that Gonzalez has not played a single minute in 2011 MLS play so far.

The Union seem to realize where one fifth of their 2011 salary cap is located, based upon their youthful signings this season. Englishman Joe Tait was signed for center back depth, though Gonzalez is resides upon the team's roster. Morgan Langley was brought in from the Harrisburg City Islanders, giving the Union much needed speed off of the bench for only 23% of what Mapp makes. Additionally, former second round SuperDraft selection Michael Farfan was pushed outside against the Columbus Crew, a position that he excelled out well enough in college that the 22-year-old won two All-American awards.

As for Miglioranzi, the Union's depth from the beginning of the season has hurt his chances of making the field. Brian Carroll has shown why he is one of the winningest players in MLS history, and Amobi Okugo has impressed in his limited time on the field. Even 16-year-old Zach Pfeffer has shown more that Miglioranzi.

A youth movement is what head coach Piotr Nowak brought to the Union after the team's inaugural season and it appears that's where the team will continue to head toward. Nowak fielded a starting 11 versus the Crew that only had four players above the age of 23 in it.